Post photography

Topic 3 : refelction on ‘Authenticity and the digital’

PART 1 : The ontology of photography

All the arts are based on the presence of man, only photography derives an advantage from his absence. Photography affects us like a phenomenon in nature, like a snowflake or a flower whose or earthly origins are inseparable from their beauty”

Andre Bazin (1967:13) The Ontology of the photographic Image.

What is photograph? How can we define or assort it? What is the relationship between human and photographic image?

Bazin claimed that human has a nature of keeping stuff, the preservation of life or a representation of life, to be remembered. For instance, embalming the dead- make mummy for body, or terra cotta statuettes, or the substitute of animal.”No one believes any longer in the ontological identity of model and image, but all are agreed that the image helps us to remember the subject and to preserve him from a second spiritual death. Today, the making of images no longer shares an anthropocentric, utilitarian purpose. It is no longer a question of survival after death, but of a larger concept, the creation of an ideal world in the likeness of the real, with its own temporal destiny.

He also mentioned the shock impact on painting after photography appeared. It is obvious that these two kinds are different namely photography has its own nature. But the obsession with realism is only photography can satisfy, “for our appetite for illusion by a mechanical reproduction in the making of which man plays no part.” The originality is also distinctively different. “Photography enjoys a certain advantage in viture of this transference of reality from the thing to its reproduction.”After this, we continue to get into a farther concept about the naturalism based on the ontology of the photography, the naive realism.

 Part 2 : Naive Realism

“Photography’s relationship with reality is as tenuous as that of any other medium. … Similarly, a photograph of an apple on a table would refer either to an idea or to an actuality, depending upon it’s context.”                                          Fred Ritchin

what is naive realism? How can we think of photography and everyday use of photographic devices in this context?

From Rotchin’s book, the content of photography was mostly means photojournalism and documentary photography, and now on, the widespread of the computer-based imaging technology is also part of the usage. Despite the more complicated new kinds of photography, such as hyper-photography, we are more focused on the generalized photography in everyday life.

The word ‘naive realism’ basically means:

“It’s a disbelief in ( or lack of appreciation of) subjective construal and multiple perspectives.”                                                               Tamar Szabo Gendler’s class

In the context of Photography: the philosophical doctrine that physical objects continue to exist when not perceived.

As Bazin has claimed that we invent photography for trying to keep the visual reality in a piece of paper, the meaning of naive realism in photography is that mind rooted in a theory of perception that claims that the senses provide us with direct awareness of the external world.

In this really philosophism week, I got a new engage with ‘naive realism’, even thought Spencer said it was an impossible task that we could refuse to do, but I like the way of challenging something mostly considered impossible.  From my understanding, I think I finished well. Here are my works of performance, are super philosophical try. “Where is the snow man.”

Its a couple of image shown that in the same area of my drawer. In the first image, there is a rubber sticker, whether I want to see it or not, it exists. While the second one has nothing in the same position. After it’s gone, the impression of it only exists in my memory which reminds me of there was a snowman on the flat. It becomes something not exist now, not in the material part. The felling of ‘ it was there’ shows out a contradictory meaning in this photo essay context.

In reflection of considering the authenticity, I can’t help thinking about the question:”Is the photography ling?”  For instance, what would photographic fiction be if ‘ the camera never lies’? Photography could take anything human make them to shoot, the problem is that the camera’s technique is impersonal, is objective, but what we choose to shoot and how we read the image is subjective. The factors of the authenticity of photography is not the definition of the ‘thing’, but the purpose of the makers and the audiences. Every process of conducting a photography, including being read, contains many complexes factors, and ‘naive realism’ is nor absolute.

The best example of the ambiguity of a single image is a  famous war photography. Robert Capa’s 1936 image, ” Falling soldier,” a man said to be photographed at the moment of his death, might not have been that at all.


Full of disputed on the truth, this photo has been used to highlight the ambiguity of photographic meaning. ‘A photography’s plenitude of realistic details can be manipulated according to a variety of contextualizing factors, such as caption and layout, which may be outside the photographer’s control.’ (Ritchin, F )


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